Published on Monday, 02 November 2015 00:00
Written by Cheryl Teo Kai Lin
For this year and the coming few, it will get increasingly dangerous to travel overseas what with the terrorist organization ISIS storming into multiple countries and gunning down or bombing innocent people wontonly. Many have been brutally murdered, and the unlucky ones are first taken hostage, viciously tortured and then left to die a slow painful death. However, you don't have to avoid travelling altogether, you just shouldn't travel to these particular countries if you value your life, until terrorist organizations' activities in these countries come to a grinding halt.
Home to one of the most diverse cultural heritage and best food in the world, this democratic and secular state has recently joined the battle against terror by force of hand.
On 10 October 2015, twin explosions went off outside Ankara's main train station. It was deliberately scheduled to happen on a Saturday morning to target hundreds of people who had gathered at the Turkish capital's train station to protest against violence between authorities and the Kurdish militant group. At least 100 of these peaceful protesters were killed and more than 250 were wounded. Turkish government officials believed that the explosions were a terrorist attack carried out by suicide bombers but no group claimed responsibility.
On 19 August there was an incident involving gunfire and a sound grenade in an attack on Turkish national police guards stationed outside Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul. On 10 August, 2 people opened fire outside the US Consulate-General in Istanbul. On 27 July there were reports of possible threats to public transport in Istanbul, in particular the metro stations at Yenikapi, Taksim, Osmanbey and Haciosman and stops on the Metrobus line.
ISIS took control of Kobanî (in Syria) this January. Since Kobanî is just a stone's throw away from the Turkish border, there was a high risk that Turkey faced an imminent threat from ISIS. The Turkish government made threats to invade Syria in late June to early July, but on 20 July, ISIS acted out first and set off a cluster bomb in Suruç, killing 33 people and injuring 104. Most of the victims were youths and young adults who travelled to Suruç in order to cross the border into Kobanî to take part in reconstruction projects there, many of these young heroes died trying to keep the rest of Turkey safe.
A Marxist-Leninist terrorist group in Turkey, The Revolutionary People's Liberation Party–Front (DHKP/C) has launched a series of attacks in Istanbul in 2015 targeting the Turkish police and judiciary. On 9 June, 4 people were killed in an attack in Diyarbakir. On 5 June, two people were killed and many injured by an explosion at an HDP rally in Diyarbakir.
DHKP/C also claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing in Istanbul. On 6 January, a female suicide bomber detonated her vest at a police station in Istanbul's central Sultanahmet district, near the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia. The attack killed the perpetrator and injured two police officers, one of whom later succumbed to his wounds. It is not known if the pepetrator or the suicide bombing had ties with Al-Qaeda or ISIS. The bombing came five days after another member of DHKP/C attacked police on guard outside the Ottoman-era Dolmabahçe Palace, hurling two grenades that failed to explode.
Viewing the pyramids and ancient architecture in Egypt is probably on most globe trotters' travel bucket lists, but maybe you should hold off on visiting the Sphinx since ISIS has declared Egypt to be one of its provinces, and there has been nearly two years of escalting bombings in and around the Egyptian capital.
On 20 August 2015, an ISIS affiliate claimed responsibility for bombing a branch of the Egyptian security agency in Cairo. On 12 August, an ISIS affiliate said it had beheaded a Croatian expatriate worker because of Croatia's "participation in the war against the Islamic State."
In what appeared to be the first attack on a naval vessel claimed by Sinai Province, the ISIS affiliate said it destroyed an Egyptian naval vessel and posted photographs on social media of a missile exploding in a ball of fire as it slammed into the vessel on 16 July. ISIS also claimed responsibility for an explosion outside the Italian Consulate’s compound in downtown Cairo that killed one person on 11 July.
Militants affiliated with the Islamic State killed dozens of soldiers in simultaneous attacks on Egyptian Army checkpoints and other security installations in Egypt's northern Sinai Peninsula on 1 July.
ISIS's Sinai province claimed responsibility for firing rockets toward an air base used by an international peacekeeping force on 9 June.
ISIS militants killed at least 12 people in three separate attacks on Egyptian security forces on 12 April. Just 10 days before this, Sinai's ISIS affiliate killed 13 people with simultaneous car bombs at military checkpoints.
On 29 January, ISIS's Sinai affiliate claimed responsibility for coordinated bombings that killed 24 soldiers, six police officers and 14 civilians.
3. Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia is one of the most gorgeous countries on Earth without a doubt. The city lights, breathtaking buildings, magnificient mosques and opulent palaces are bound to take anyone's breath away, even the women reflect the country's beauty, many literature pieces have marvelled at the beauty and grace of Arabian women for many centuries. But all the charm that Saudi Arabia has to offer falls short on terrorist groups who have launched multiple attacks on this magical country.
On 7 August 2015 a suicide bombing occurred in a mosque in southern Saudi Arabia. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement circulated on social media, saying the bomber had used an explosives belt to blow up “a monument of apostasy” that supported the Saudi state and its “crusader masters.” 15 people were killed, including 12 members of a Saudi police force.
The Saudi Interior Ministry announced on 19 July that security forces has arrested a whooping number of 400 people believed to be connected to ISIS over the past few months. If so many people involved with ISIS can be rounded up so easily within just a span of several months, this number hints at an infestation of ISIS members in Saudi Arabia.
One week after a similar attack in the same region, a suicide bomber dressed in women’s clothing detonated an explosive belt near the entrance to a Shiite mosque, killing three people on 29 May.
In what appeared to be ISIS's first official claim of an attack in Saudi Arabia, a suicide bomber detonated an explosive at a Shiite mosque during midday prayer on 22 May, killing at least 21 and injuring 120.
On 8 April, 2 unknown gunmen opened fire on a routine police patrol and killed two police officers.
On 31 March 2015, a suicide bomber from an ISIS affliliate killed at least four Libyan fighters at a checkpoint west of Misurata on the coastal road to Tripoli.
On 19 April, ISIS released a horrifying video of militants from two of its Libya affliliates killing dozens of Ethiopian Christians, some by beheading and others by shooting. On 12 April, ISIS carried out attacks on two embassies – they detonated a bomb outside the Moroccan Embassy, and launched an attack on the South Korean Embassy that killed two local police officers.
ISIS killed at least four people in an attack on a security checkpoint on 5 April.
On 20 February, ISIS's Derna affliliate claimed responsibility for three car bombs that killed at least 40 people in eastern Libya. The attacks, in the town of Qubbah, appeared to be one more turn in a cycle of retaliation that began when ISIS released a video on 15 February showing its fighters in western Libya beheading more than a dozen kidnapped Egyptian Christians. The government of Egypt responded with airstrikes on the city of Derna, a hub of Islamist militancy in eastern Libya where another group of fighters has pledged loyalty to the Islamic State.
On 3 February, ISIS militants were suspected of killing 12 people, including four foreigners, in an attack on an oil field.
On 27 January, ISIS's Tripoli affiliate claimed credit for an armed assault on a luxury hotel that killed at least eight people. It was the deadliest attack on Western interests in Libya since the assault on the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi. 12 January was when ISIS's Tripoli affliate said they were holding 21 Egyptian Christians captive.
Among Tunisia's tourist attractions are its cosmopolitan capital city of Tunis, the ancient ruins of Carthage, the Muslim and Jewish quarters of Jerba, and coastal resorts outside of Monastir. Tunisia is very well known for its golden beaches, sunny weather and affordable luxuries. This is where terrorists chose to strike.
On 26 June 2015, a gunman disguised as a vacationer attacked a placid Mediterranean resort in Sousse, he sprayed bullets into a throng of beachgoers and killed at least 38 people – most of them were British tourists. He was then shot dead by security forces. However, eyewitnesses at the scene claimed that there were two gunmen. The second man was never apprehended.
It sent shock waves through the country, which was still recovering from the massacre of mostly foreign tourists at a museum in Tunis, the capital, on 18 March. ISIS claimed responsibility for the mindless slaughter of at least 19 people at the National Bardo Museum. Security forces apparently killed two gunmen inside the museum but two or three accomplices might still be at large. Out of the 22 victims, 17 were foreign visitors (including Polish, italian, Spanish and German tourists), as well as two Tunisians. At least 22 others were wounded in the assault.
Yemen is known as “the happy land” in ancient times, but in modern times, Yemen is not a very happy country anymore, especially after ISIS started attacking the country. The country has been terrorized for months by airstrikes as well as antiaircraft fire that has fallen on civilian homes.
On 17 June 2015, ISIS set off a series of car bombings in Sana, the capital that killed at least 30 people. On 22 May, ISIS detonated a bomb on a Shiite mosque that injured at least 13 worshippers. On 30 April, one of ISIS's affliliates released a gruesome video showing the merciless killing of 15 Yemeni soldiers.
The deadliest attacks occurred on 20 March where ISIS coordinated suicide strikes on two Zaydi Shiite mosque that killed more than 130 people during Friday prayer.
On 3 June 2015, ISIS terrorists ambush and behead 10 Taliban fighters in Afghanistan as the blood rivalry between the terror groups intensifies. The attack took place in a remote area in the eastern province of Nangarhar after ISIS jihadis intercepted at least a dozen Taliban fighters who were fleeing a gun battle with government troops. The rival terror groups declared war on one another in April after the Afghan Taliban branded ISIS' self-declared caliphate illegitimate and refused to declare allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. ISIS responded by launching recruitment drives deep into Taliban territory, allowing them to expand rapidly - even reportedly replacing the Taliban as the dominant controlling force in one district.
So why exactly is ISIS carrying out so many of these atrocities in multiple countries?
“The goal,” said Harleen Gambhir, an analyst at the Institute for the Study of War, “is that through these regional affiliates and through efforts to create chaos in the wider world, the organization will be able to expand, and perhaps incite a global apocalyptic war.”
Beginning last fall, ISIS made repeated calls for attacks on the West, especially to followers in countries taking part in the American-led airstrike campaign in Iraq and Syria. So-called lone wolves have responded to these calls with relatively low-tech assaults — shootings, hostage takings, hit-and-runs — that tend to get a lot of attention.
“Al Qaeda always wanted to do spectacular attacks, but ISIS has reversed it,” said Patrick M. Skinner, a former C.I.A. operations officer now with the Soufan Group. “They don’t do spectacular attacks. They do attacks that generate spectacular reaction.”
ISIS' strength and activity across the world has surged. We are not telling you to hide out in a bunker for the rest of your life, but travellers should exercise restraint in travelling to countries that have been known for ISIS attacks. It is not worth risking getting blown up into bits for a few days of fun, we advise you to push your travel plans for any of these countries to the bottom of your list first because if your life is not tragically cut short, you would still be able to travel to more places in the world.